Essex Records was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1951 by David Miller (Palda Record Co.) primarily to record contemporary country and western, rhythm and blues as well as jazz and gospel. Jack Howard was the promotion manager. The label had little popular success.
The label also released the first 12-inch album of rock and roll music with its 1954 Haley compilation Rock with Bill Haley and the Comets. Haley's first big hit, "Crazy Man, Crazy" was followed by two other chart hits, "Fractured", and "Live It Up". In 1954, Haley left Essex for Decca Records. The primary female vocalist on the label was Bunny Paul, who scored hits in 1954 with "Such a Night" and "Honey Love".